JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's Thursday notes and observations: Cornerback Jalen Ramsey misses a second consecutive day of practice, rookie first-round defensive lineman Taven Bryan improving in second half of the season, more …
1.Jalen Ramsey missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday. And while there appears a real chance he could miss his first NFL start Sunday, he hasn't given up on playing against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. "We'll see how things go," Ramsey said Thursday. Ramsey, the Jaguars' All-Pro cornerback who has started the first 43 games of his NFL career, missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury. Head Coach Doug Marrone on Wednesday said he had a "high level of concern" about whether Ramsey will play Sunday. "Of course I want to be out there, but we'll just see how things go as the week progresses," Ramsey said. "Another day of practice isn't ideal. I have to make sure I feel good." The third-year veteran has three interceptions this season with eight passes defensed. Both totals lead the Jaguars.
2.Ramsey on Thursday was asked about motivation for Sunday's game because of the Jaguars' 29-26 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis earlier this month. Ramsey in that game made several assignment errors that led to touchdowns, including one that led to a 53-yard touchdown reception by tight end Eric Ebron on the Colts' first series. Ramsey the following week had perhaps the best game of his NFL career, covering All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown one on one through much of a 20-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers while making two interceptions – including one in the Jaguars' end zone – that led to 10 Jaguars points. "I let it go and move on," Ramsey said of the Colts game. "The week after that, I had a pretty good game. Last week – not much action. I just look this week to be back on my game, like I try to be every week."
3.A recent bright spot for the Jaguars: the improvement of rookie defensive lineman Taven Bryan. The No. 29 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft has played a higher percentage of the defensive snaps in the last two weeks than in the season's first nine games, playing 32.3 percent of the snaps in a 20-16 loss to Pittsburgh and a season-high 41.4 percent of the snaps in a 24-21 loss to Buffalo Sunday. Bryan has improved his awareness and disruption while currently playing multiple positions – including three-technique tackle – as opposed to early in the season when he was only backing up strong-side end Calais Campbell. "He plays all over the place," Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said. "You're really starting to see him hone in on his technique. A shade is a shade for us and a head up is a head up for us. His techniques are improving and you're starting to see his explosiveness. He's very strong with his hands. Right now I would say he's a better run defender than a pass rusher, but usually it takes rookies a while to figure out how to pass rush at this level."
4.Another rookie to watch in the last five games of the season: safety Ronnie Harrison, a third-round selection. Harrison, who has played mostly as a nickel defensive back in the team's "big nickel" package this season, has played dramatically less in recent weeks – less than 10 percent of the plays in the last three games. "We were very limited in what we could do fronts-wise [in the big-nickel package], so we kind of got away from that," Wash said. "It was some of the reason we were struggling against the run. It took a little too long to adjust. So he hasn't played as much." Harrison could get a look at strong safety moving forward. Veteran strong safety Barry Church has struggled in recent weeks, allowing a 75-yard touchdown to wide receiver Robert Foster against Buffalo, and Marrone said this week Harrison's snaps will increase in practice this week – and that they could increase Sunday. "You see the development of him on the grass within the safety position," Wash said. "As he continues to grow, he'll get more and more playing time."
5.Ramsey was one of three players missing practice Thursday, with safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (quadriceps) also missing practice. Ramsey and Gipson both have started all 11 games this season, with Chark missing Sunday's loss at Buffalo with his injury. Jaguars players limited in practice Thursday: safety Cody Davis (hamstring), cornerback Tre Herndon (ankle), cornerback Quenton Meeks (knee), linebacker Lerentee McCray (hamstring), offensive lineman Josh Walker (foot/ankle), right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (back). Meeks has missed the last three games with the injury, with McCray missing two of the last three games, Dareus missing last week and Walker missing the last two games after starting the four before that. Quarterback Blake Bortles worked full a second consecutive day with a right wrist injury.